Our culture puts a heavy emphasis on quantitative proof. This article is not about how the answer to everything is the number 42...because maybe that number truly has some meaning! I do understand there must be a good reason for this trend, and that there is definitely value in numbers. We need numbers to keep track of our economy and personal savings, and to ensure our physics calculations are correct before we send a human being into space. Numbers are valuable to our society. The point at which numbers become a hinderance, however, is when we use them to determine our worth as beings - when we use them as a deciding factor on whether or not we deserve love, attention, safety, and peace.
I thought it might be valuable to create a list of numbers that many people (including myself) have used to determine their self-worth. My hope is that is serves as a reminder that you are more than the sum of your parts. Here it goes:
Have you stopped to consider what weight actually is? What the number on the scale is telling you before you connect your story to it? Your weight the collective mass of your bones, muscles, blood, nerves, organs, hair, and yes - fat. That's it. Your weight cannot tell you the ratio of fat to muscle. Your weight cannot tell your body's story of the children you birthed, the eating disorder you overcame, the grief you are still stuck in, or the month you just went sober. Though there are concerns with being severely under or over weight, that number does not measure your value. Weight is a meaningless number because it cannot measure your strength, drive, creativity, love, sense of humour, dreams, or kindness. Weight cannot define who you are.
This one hits close to my heart. In high school, and especially university, students use grades as a direct way to compare their "intelligence" to one another. I use the term "intelligence" loosely because that is not what grades truly represent. Grades actually represent how many tests fell on your good days, whether or not you felt strong enough to ask for help, and whether or not you even like what you are studying. Grades are not the be-all-end-all determinant of whether or not you will achieve success. It is true that certain programs require you to maintain a certain grade - but is that program really your ultimate goal in life? Think about it. If your ultimate goal is to get into that one med/physio/law school, or to write your own book, or to be a star basketball player, you are actually dreaming rather small. Make your dream bigger! Make your dream to help people, or to inspire creativity, or to maximize people's enjoyment of their bodies. When you dream bigger, infinite routes appear to achieve that goal - and you will.
Social media, as a creative outlet, is wonderful in many ways. But there is no denying that in some ways, it is a trap. What many do not understand while scrolling through their feed is how carefully structured and posed most accounts are, and how much effort goes in to making their lives appear flawless. The amount of followers your social media account has says absolutely nothing about how cool you are, how awesome your life is, or how much you have to be grateful for.
While we are on the social media topic, I suppose a more relevant number to mention is likes. They do not actually matter. It's not your fault if you think they do, honestly, I often fall into that trap, too. We are conditioned to think this way and place some of our value in how many like we have. When we do not get enough likes, we may think that our voice is not worthy enough to be heard. So we participate in carefully crafting our posts with "perfect" timing, lighting, captions, etc. But is that making you happy? If yes, keep doing it then! If you hesitated, remind yourself that likes have nothing to do with how amazing you and your life actually are. And chances are, if you have an Instagram account, you have a lot else in your life to be grateful for.
This may sound naive coming from a 21-year-old, but I believe age is a meaningless number. There are people stuck in their egos until the day they die, and young people who are kind, wise, and awake. There are young people who have no interest in new activities and trends, while 91-year-old grandmas have "mastered" the social media world. You define success and your actions based on what you want to do. Age does not stand in the way of that - nothing does. Age also cannot belittle your success. Sometimes when I congratulate people on their achievements they respond with, "oh, thank you, but it took me until I was 25 so really it's not that impressive." So what?? You DID IT. You accomplished a goal. That's amazing. You're amazing. You have the power to write your own rules.
A high price tag does not equate to high quality or high value. The brands and labels you wear do not say anything about how cool you are or how worthy of attention you are. Enough said.
I know this is a tough subject for many, because calories are often demonized and we are encouraged to intake as little as possible while burning as much as possible to stay slim, attractive, and worthy. I do not know who came up with this idea but it is NUTS. My words alone cannot break that mindset, though, so if you are suffering with disordered eating or an eating disorder please just know that you can get help with that. You can heal. You deserve to be happy and healthy, and there are professionals who can help you get there. Low calorie does not equal healthy, lovable, or worthy. You are already worthy of love and light - no matter how many calories you consume today.
How many times you failed
It's cliche but true. The number of times you fail does not matter, and it does not speak to who you are as a person. Your actions as a result of that failure are what truly tell your story.
So, friends, we may have gone through some heavy stuff in this article. Reach out if you need to talk, and repeat after me:
My weight does not define me.
My grades do not define me.
The amount of followers and likes I have do not define me.
The brands of clothes I can afford do not define me.
The number of calories I ate today does not define me.
The times I have failed, and will fail in the future, do not define me.
You are simply you - and that means everything.